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How to Start End-of-Life Conversations with Your Loved Ones

  • Think through your own end-of-life wishes. Set an example by writing your own living will.
  • Say “I need your help with this so I can do what you want” and “You may not need to talk, but I need to.”
  • Be a patient listener. Open communication is key.
  • Focus on what matters to the individual.
  • Planning may take place gradually - look for a little progress at a time.
  • Remember, it’s better to talk about end-of-life issues in the living room rather than the ER.
  • Ask your loved one to describe what type of funeral they would like.
  • Reexamine you wishes whenever one of the “5D’s” occur:
    1. new Decade
    2. Death of a loved one
    3. Divorce
    4. new Diagnosis
    5. significant Decline in condition
  • There are resources at libraries and on the web which can help you guide the conversation.
  • Once wishes are clear, put Power of Attorney, Health Care Agent and Living Will paperwork into place. This may require the assistance of an eldercare attorney.

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